Friday, February 5, 2016

[fairly empty] thoughts about dessert

I've been accidentally collecting unfrosted cake recipes lately, like this double vanilla butter cake, ooey gooey double baked chocolate cake ("ooey gooey"? ugh, come on, Food52), and this grapefruit curd in grapefruit cake.

I actually made the double vanilla butter cake tonight and in case you were wondering, can I forget to mix the sugar with the eggs at the beginning and not realize it until I've already added all of the other ingredients and still get a decent cake? Yes, you can! I tested out that scenario just for you! Your cake will be about half the height of the cake in the picture and therefore twice as dense, but it will still taste okay!

This will sound like a stupid idea coming off of that failure, but I also decided I want to tackle a Milk Bar cake sometime soon. Probably the birthday cake. I'm debating whether it's worth forking over a bunch of money on Amazon for 1) glucose 2) acetate strips 3) quarter sheet pan 4) 6" cake rings 5) more sprinkles. I was already going to buy myself sprinkles for my birthday, but glucose? When am I ever going to use glucose again unless I bake more Milk Bar cakes?

Not cake, but these salted peanut butter cookies look amazing. However, any recipe with significant amounts of peanut butter, maple syrup, honey, or Nutella makes me hesitate because that stuff is not cheap. And if we're buying peanut butter it's because Aaron eats a peanut butter sandwich almost every day for lunch (he's a champion of food monotony), not for a batch of cookies we'll devour in a couple days. This is when I'll know we've made it: when I can nonchalantly pick up an extra thing of peanut butter at the grocery store for cookies I'm making on a whim with no purpose or event in mind.

Speaking of cookies, I got a cookie scoop for Christmas, and it is a life changer. I want to make drop cookies all the time now because cookies obviously, but also because using that scoop is so fun. It magically makes my cookies turn out much better to boot. I've been biased against cookie scoops in the past because I've always thought of them as ice cream scoops, and they suck at scooping ice cream. But, it turns out when you use them for their actual purpose, they work great! Who would've thought?

You'd think that after such a long gap between posts I'd return with something meaningful or interesting to say buuuuut nope! CAKES AND COOKIES. The important things in life.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

the best part of the christmas story is the glowstick party at the end

I know I've posted this video before, but this is still my favorite version of the Christmas story (as told/acted by adorable New Zealand children):

There's a line where one of the girls says in this perfectly accented little voice, "They call the baby Jesus. And they loved Him. He has two daddies: God and Joseph. They both needed to look after the baby." Something about the way she says that gets me every time! I almost can't watch it without crying. 

I like thinking about tiny baby Jesus. He was the all-powerful Son of God and yet He was willing to be born, just like any other person, as a helpless baby. "Behold the condescension of God!" almost isn't strong enough to describe it. It took more humility and love for humankind than I can imagine to do that. I also like thinking about both of Jesus's fathers rooting for Him and doing what they could to "look after the baby." It reminds me that God is looking after me. 

Just something I've been thinking about lately. Merry Christmas, guys. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

a couple of things to get off my chest on a saturday night

1) No, I don't know when I'm going to graduate, and no, I don't have any babies. Also, if everyone on Facebook could just stop doing actual adult things like buying houses and having a semblance of a  career, that'd be great, thanks.

2) Medical training sucks, and I hate it.

ETA: alternate titles for this post include "the bitter 5th year of grad school", "yes, i'm a selfish, sad person who currently can't find happiness in anyone else's success", "intern year night float: worse than expected!", and probably most appropriate: "i need more sleep"

Saturday, October 31, 2015

letting go

A little while ago, my grandma died.

Typing that out almost three months later still feels so strange to me, because she had lived so long I almost believed she was immortal. Many things have changed in my life over the past few years, but my grandma–sharp as ever, living in Burbank with the orange vinyl kitchen and the pingpong table in the backyard–was a constant.

These are the little things that as a granddaughter I remember: she was an avid Dodgers fan and kept score of every game. She had the best jewelry and always picked out the best clothing gifts for me and my sisters. There was a mega-sized amethyst ring kept in her drawer that I always thought was the epitome of glamour. She taught me how to play cards and was awesome at solitaire. Her house contained a seemingly endless supply of caffeine-free Diet Coke and fascinating magazines, both of which I took full advantage every summer we visited.

My grandma was as feisty as her bright red hair, which she continued to dye even as she reached her 90s. She was generous and sassy and fiercely independent. She loved music and taught piano lessons for years and years at the beautiful black grand piano in her living room. Every Christmas she'd play The March of the Toys as all the grandkids stomped around. She took us to see The Lion King musical and Romeo and Juliet the ballet and Josh Groban (!) at the Hollywood Bowl. When I was in 9th grade, I performed at Disneyland with the ballroom dance team. Grandma drove all the way down there and paid the steep entrance fee to come watch me dance.

Though she won't be physically present anymore, her memory will remain a constant reminder: do good and be involved; keep things feisty.

I love you, Grandma. 'Til we meet again.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


"I felt an even more fundamental shift, almost like I had felt that I was a boat on an ocean, rocky and choppy with waves, and I had this feeling that I'm not the boat, I'm the ocean...It has made me feel...powerful."

-Sarah Gray (from this podcast, which seriously, you should listen to)

I'm not the boat, I'm the ocean. A new mantra, maybe?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

checking in

A few random thoughts...

1) Up until last week, I thought the lyrics to The Killers song "Human" were:

Are we human? Or are we dancer?

Like I thought it was this great ode to dancing. Yeah, I'm not human, I'm dancer! Yay dance! Turns out the actual words are:

Are we human? Or are we denser? 

Which does make a little more sense, I suppose.

NEVER MIND. It IS dancer, and I clearly am unable to find reputable lyric websites.

2) The other day I read this review article about chemical gardens, which are these alien plant-looking mineral formations. It turned out my lab had everything needed to make some. So I did, and I posted about it on Twitter, and a million (okay like 40) people retweeted it, and I felt so cool.

What you do is make a sodium silicate solution (which you can do at home by crushing up some silica beads like you find in the do-not-eat packets in shoes or electronics and mixing it with lye) and then drop in some metal salts (which you can buy on Amazon, like everything else in existence). Pictured above left to right the metal salts used are: copper(II) chloride, cobalt(II) chloride, zinc chloride, and iron(II) chloride. Different metals lead to different colors and different growth patterns. Chemistry is so great. 

3) Speaking of how great chemistry is, here's a piece by Oliver Sacks that spells it out a lot more beautifully than I can. As he is dying of metastatic cancer, he finds comfort in the physical sciences:

"Times of stress throughout my life have led me to turn, or return, to the physical sciences, a world where there is no life, but also no death.

 And now, at this juncture, when death is no longer an abstract concept, but a presence — an all-too-close, not-to-be-denied presence — I am again surrounding myself, as I did when I was a boy, with metals and minerals, little emblems of eternity."

Little emblems of eternity. I love that.

4) I started listening to podcasts on my walk to/from lab. #muchculture. I am loving Invisibilia and Radiolab, especially this episode. Parents of a baby who died a few days after being born donated his body to medical research, and a little while later, his mom tried to find out exactly where his organs went and what they were used for. It made me cry and feel proud to be a scientist.

5) Aaron and I were recently debating over buying an ice cream machine because it seemed like a fun new cooking adventure we should try out. And then out of the blue, Wendy sent us one because she is the best! It turns out making ice cream is super easy and delicious. We've tried salted caramel and mint chip, and basically if you come to our house for a party or dinner in the future I'M MAKING YOU ICE CREAM!

So...that's how things are going around here lately. What are you loving these days? What else should I be reading/listening to/eating? I mean besides ice cream, obviously.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

"this shall keep me safe from the hot mexican sun"

-me, referring to my SPF 50 sunscreen that I applied religiously
and also -Buster Bluth

A few weeks ago, Aaron and I took a graduation celebration vacation to Playa del Carmen in Mexico. It was the perfect opportunity to relax and do something fun before the monster that is residency began. 

Let's start with cenotes. Cenotes are giant sinkholes found throughout the Yucatan Peninsula caused by limestone dissolving in the earth. They make for awesome places to do my new favorite activity: SNORKEL. We swam in three different cenotes, two of which were underground, full of bats, and super cool (literally and figuratively). The other one was above ground and had the clearest water I have ever seen.
Underground cenote + Aaron's arm I'm too lazy to crop out. This was connected to several other cenote chambers that we snorkeled through. Not pictured, but also cool: there were a lot of long tree roots hanging in the middle of the cavern, growing toward the water from above the ground. 

Ultra clear water cenote + my blindingly white skin

So, let's talk about snorkeling. When I was younger, I was terrified of swimming in any natural body of water. I think it was mostly because I couldn't see what was under there and having some random plant or heaven-forbid fish brush up against me was horrifying. Guess what fixes that! Swimming in clear water with a snorkel mask! Having eliminated fear of the unknown, snorkeling was so much fun. We got to swim with turtles in the ocean twice. We also saw a couple of stingrays, a lion fish (!!!), lots of tropical fish whose names I no longer remember, and coral reefs. 
You know what is really hard? Taking pictures of fish. National Geographic photographers, I salute you. 

We went to two different Mayan sites, Tulum and Chichen (UGH I keep typing Chicken) Itza. Tulum is right on the ocean, and if I were a Maya, that is definitely where I'd want to have lived because it is gorgeous. 

Wouldn't you want to live in that stone hut? Iguanas could be your best friends! We saw a million of them here. 

Chichen Itza is further inland and is more restored than Tulum. It's actually a pretty big site.  I was expecting just to see the one iconic Wonder of the World pyramid, but there are a lot of other stone buildings and a huge ball court. Fun fact: the Mayans never used a keystone arch, so they had to use a ton of pillars in any large building to hold up the ceiling. 


While in Chichen Itza we overheard a tour guide throwing around the names "Nephi" "Lehi" "Lamanites" and we were like....MORMONS?! We had found the Book of Mormon Mexico tour group! Whenever I run into Mormons outside of church, it takes a lot of self-control for me to not be like "I'M A MORMON TOO! ISN'T IT CRAZY WE RAN INTO EACH OTHER IN THE WILD?!" I held back the urge this time though, and we continued on our heathen tour, learning about virgin sacrifices. 

I also wanted to record for posterity that we ate a lot of tacos and guacamole all over the place, and it was so good. Also, there was a little Venezuelan restaurant next door to our hotel, and that was also so delicious we went twice. Couldn't get enough of the kaxapas and arepas! 

Huge thank you to Wendy for loaning us the underwater camera so we could actually take pictures! If it weren't for that, all we'd have to document this trip would be a single photo of a taco on my phone (though maybe you'd prefer that after scrolling through this post). Yay vacation! Yay snorkeling! Yay tacos! 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

look what aaron did!

Apparently, this is what it takes these days to break me out of my blogging absence: you have to graduate number one in your med school class at a top 5 med school in the country! I mean, it's a pretty low bar. 

Aaron's parents came in town to celebrate, and we took a quick trip to New York, since they've done most of the Philly touristy stuff already. We took a food tour of Greenwich Village (which is kind of dorky but it was my favorite part of the whole trip), saw Aladdin on Broadway, ate a delicious steak dinner, went to the Met, and got a cronut. Here is an example of why Wendy is the best mother-in-law ever: she trekked all the way down to SoHo and waited in line with me for almost two hours for a freaking croissant-donut. She is awesome! 

I am so proud of Aaron for this accomplishment. No one knows better than me how hard he worked for this, and it's really exciting to see that recognized. Soooo many nights and weekends of studying and looking up papers and preparing patient presentations. And it's finally over!* He did it! He's a doctor!!!!!! 

*Minus the three more years of residency, followed by 4 years of fellowship before he will actually be a practicing physician. SEVEN MORE YEARS. I try not to think about that too much. Remind me to let you know what I think when people complain about doctors making too much money.